What is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning is the natural method of introducing your baby to solid foods. For many years it has been believed that babies must be gradually introduced to textures, starting with purees. This is largely to do with the commercialisation of jarred baby foods.
However, babies have the ability to handle whole foods from the time they are ready for solid foods. This is typically around six months – the convenience of being able to feed pureed food to smaller babies has led to the belief that babies need solid food well before 6 months.The principle of baby led weaning is that baby takes the lead in deciding when, what and how much to eat. Your baby is ready when he is able to pick up food for himself and bring it to his mouth. Breast milk is still the main part of his diet for at least one year (non-breastfed babies can do baby led weaning too). Solid foods complement baby’s milk diet and there is no need to try and encourage your baby to eat more than he chooses. Some babies will eat little or no food during the first year and some will eat a lot as soon as they have their first try of solids. Some will go through phases, eating plenty at one time and nothing for other periods of time. Just like you, your baby has hunger signals and an appetite to stop her from letting herself go hungry. Your job is to provide her with a healthy choice of food and she will do the rest.
NOTE: Baby led weaning is often confused with, or seen as promoting, premature weaning from the breast. The term ‘weaning’ is the process of gradually introducing solid foods, which slowly replaces milk. When allowed to take place naturally the process can take years. Regarding breastfeeding, weaning begins when a baby has his first taste of solid foods and ends when he has his last breastfeed. The term ‘baby led weaning’ does not negate natural weaning. Baby led weaning is a way of weaning ON to solid food, regardless of what that means they are being weaned off.